Cook’s NFL Picks: Week 2!

Hello friends! Steve Cook here with your Week 2 NFL Picks. We’re only a week into this season and it feels like so much has already happened. I have a hard time keeping track of it all, but keeping up with all the great articles here at THE Ultimate Sports Blog helps me do it. Week 2 is an integral week, especially if you’re a team that lost in Week 1. Two 0-2 teams were able to make the playoffs last year, which is ahead of the pace since only seven have done it since 2007.

Needless to say, if your team is 0-2 after this week, you might be wanting another edition of THE USB Baseball Report or THE USB Other Sports Column next week. We’ll see. Until then, let’s get to the picks!

Sunday, September 18

Tennessee at Detroit (-6)

How bout dem Lions? Detroit got a big win last week in Indianapolis against a porous Colts defense that made everything easy. The Titans made everything easy for the Vikings after a few minutes of looking good and making me feel like a genius for picking them. I don’t appreciate being teased with success and then made a fool of, so I hope the Lions crush them.

Kansas City at Houston (-2.5)

I got the Chiefs & Texans winning their divisions this season, which isn’t too big of a leap since Houston won theirs last year & KC beat them in the playoffs. By thirty points. But that was last year, and last year’s Texans didn’t have the services of BRRRRRRRRROOOOOOOOOCCCCCKKKKKKKK OSSSSSSWEEEEIIILLLLEEEERRRRRRR!

osweiler

Indeed. Keep in mind that Brock spent his first four NFL seasons with the Denver Broncos. While Brock didn’t play more than part of a game against Kansas City, Brock was used as part of the scout team that would simulate what Broncos opponents do during practices. So Brock had to study the Kansas City Chiefs extensively & know their strengths and weaknesses twice a year. While the Texans struggled against the Chiefs in 2015, Brock threw three less interceptions than Peyton Manning did in their game last season.

Brock is ready. He’s got DeAndre Hopkins. He’s got Will Fuller. He’s got Lamar Miller. This is the Texans time. Kansas City only beat San Diego because of Spencer Ware, and Ware’s not going to be able to carve up JJ Watt & the Texans like he did Manti Te’o and the Chargers.

Miami at New England (-6.5)

The Dolphins played the Seahawks pretty close in Seattle, so I don’t see any reason why they can’t do the same in Foxboro. Not that they’re going to win or anything crazy like that, but they can keep it kinda close. Picking against the Patriots seems like a fools’ errand no matter who the quarterback is, but believe it or not the Dolphins have won three out of the last five times these teams went at it. Granted, it’s not like the Patriots were trying too hard in Week 17 last year, but it’s something to note.

Baltimore (-6.5) at Cleveland

People are kind of trying to hype up the Ravens to make the AFC North a three-horse race between them, the Bengals & the Steelers. I didn’t see anything in Week 1 that showed me that the Ravens are THE RAVENS again. Those same people are all writing off the Cleveland Browns after their Week 1 performance and saying they won’t win any games this season. Hey, I’m not saying the Browns are going to contend for anything, but are people really going to the “OMG ZERO WINS” topic because they lost freaking RG3? This is the same Browns team that did better with Josh McCown last season than they did with Johnny Manziel or Austin Rivers Davis. McCown isn’t particularly good, but it’s not like he’s been much worse than Robert Griffin over the past couple of years. The Browns can keep this low-scoring game close, and I won’t be shocked if they win.

Cincinnati at Pittsburgh (-3.5)

towel

Here we go again. It’s the Bengals & the Steelers in a rivalry that many consider the best current rivalry in the National Football League. I’d like it to be a little more competitive, but Bengals vs. Steelers does fit my main criteria for a rivalry: the people involved really, really don’t like each other. I mean, really.

Let’s face it, a good 75% of sporting rivalries are manufactured. Most of the hyped “hatred” between sports teams takes place between fans of the teams. Kentucky & Louisville fans talk smack to each other all year every year about college basketball, but the players on the floor? They’re worried about getting to the NBA and don’t have time to hate the other team. The Yanks & the Sawx will go at it like cats & dogs if they’re in the playoffs. If they aren’t, it kinda matters but not really. Just another game, except they both play slow so the game takes five hours. Most NBA rivalries exist for a few years. Knicks/Pacers was pretty dope in the 90s, but when’s the last time that was mentioned outside of that awesome 30 for 30 doc?

The best sporting rivalries are the ones that come up naturally. Even until recently, Bengals/Steelers was a small thing, but generally unnoticed outside the AFC North. The Bengals organization really wanted to beat the Steelers, but the games were typical AFC North ground & pound football that weren’t different from other games in the division. Now, you get games where multiple fines & suspensions are pretty much guaranteed going in. Smack is talked between the players involved all year. When the announcers say “these guys don’t like each other”, it’s actually true. You won’t see many handshakes before the game, it’s more likely you’ll see people being pulled apart from each other. After the game? Who knows, man. Who knows.

What we do know is shit’s gonna get real serious at 1 PM Sunday at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh. As a fantasy football person, I dread this game. Nobody I own will score many points. As a Bengals fan raised in the school of hard knocks, I can’t wait for this game. I wouldn’t dare bet on it, but I’d take whoever the underdog is if they’re getting 3.5. A field goal is a ton of points in these games. So, the Bengals it is then.

Dallas at Washington (-3)

Speaking of manufactured rivalries. About 50 years ago, somebody realized there was a team named after cowboys and a team named after indians, so they were like OMG Cowboys vs Indians! See, back in the day kids used to play “cowboys vs Indians” as a game. Cowboys would have guns, Indians would have bows and arrows, it wasn’t a very fair game but at least if you were an Indian you could wear feathers. I doubt this sort of thing flies in 2016, so now kids play with their phones.

So the Dallas/Washington rivalry is really nothing more than team names. There’s no real dislike there, nothing like the hatred that oozes through the TV screen when you watch a Bengals/Steelers game. Dallas vs. Washington is just a standard football game boosted up by media hype, not the no holds barred street fights Cincinnati & Pittsburgh partake in. Dallas & Washington fans don’t like each other, but they’re too far away from each other to interact in person, and the rivalry doesn’t exist anywhere other than in football. Stars vs. Capitols isn’t a thing, neither is Mavericks vs. Wizards or Rangers vs. Nationals. Cincinnati & Pittsburgh hate each other in football, Reds vs. Pirates has been a beanball war for awhile now, and even the USL soccer teams played each other this week. If anybody tries to tell you that Dallas/Washington is on the same level as Bengals/Steelers, they don’t know what they’re talking about.

Take the Cowboys and the points because this should be a pretty close game, even if it’s not the slobberknocker that Bengals/Steelers will be.

New Orleans at NY Giants (-4.5)

If you like offense, this just might be the game of the year for you. It was last year, when New Orleans eeked out a 52-49 victory over the G-Men in the Superdome. Expect more of the same this year, as the Saints defense has already proved to be pretty pathetic after their showing in Week 1 against Oakland. I like the Giants to win this game, but it’s going to be a close one so I’d put my money on the Saints. Oh, and take the over. I don’t care how high they make that number, take the over.

San Francisco at Carolina (-13.5)

The 49ers get a pretty tough draw this week, as they get to fly across the country & play the defending NFC Champions less than six full days after their opening game. They looked better than expected in that game, but I’d expect this to be a bit different. The Panthers should smoke these guys.

Tampa Bay at Arizona (-6.5)

Famous Jameis & the Bucs looked like they’re ready to take the next step in Week 1. Thing is, that Falcon defense they were up against pales in comparison to the defense they’ll be playing this week. The Cardinals will be out for blood after their debacle on Sunday night, and I just think it’ll be a long weekend for Florida State people at the hands of Cardinals in general.

Just saying.

Seattle (-6.5) at Los Angeles

ESPN’s John Clayton is hearing that Rams coach Jeff Fisher is going to get a three-year contract extension with the team. If Rams brass watched that game on Monday night and haven’t recalculated that plan, their franchise is doomed and that big new Los Angeles stadium is going to struggle to be half-full more often than not. We all know that LA fans love winners & don’t have a lot of time for losers, and the 2016 Rams looked the worst out of any NFL team in Week 1. I mean, even the Browns managed to put some points on the board. Case Keenum is a joke at QB, Jared Goff is an even bigger joke if he can’t unseat Keenum, and poor Todd Gurley’s going to have nowhere to run as long as defenses don’t need to worry about the Ram passing game.

Oh, and the Rams get to play the Seattle Seahawks this week. Seattle didn’t look particularly impressive either, but I can’t imagine the Seahawks not coming out of Los Angeles with the win. HOWEVER…the Rams do tend to play these guys close and it’s the first game in Los Angeles so I think I have to roll with them and the points. I don’t love it but it feels like the good play.

Indianapolis at Denver (-6)

I gotta say that this matchup loses a lot of its luster without ol’ Peyton Manning involved. At least Colts fans will be able to root for their team now. Six points seems like a lot to give the Broncos here, even with their great defense it’s not like Trevor Siemian set the world on fire with his performance against Carolina. At least Denver has C.J. Anderson going at top speed and I do think they win the game, but Andrew Luck will single-handedly keep the Colts close. Like he usually does.

Atlanta at Oakland (-5)

This seems like two franchises heading in opposite directions. The Falcons lost at home to the pesky Buccaneers in Week 1 while the Raiders pulled an upset that might not have been an upset in New Orleans over the Saints. I’ve been high on the Raiders & low on the Falcons during the off-season, and I saw nothing in Week 1 to change my mind. Go with the Raiders.

Jacksonville at San Diego (-3)

The Jaguars have been to San Diego three times in the history of their franchise. How did that go?

10/10/04: 21-34
9/19/10: 13-38
9/28/14: 14-33

“Not good” is the answer we were looking for. I know we’re not supposed to base everything on history and sometimes things change, but I’m not sure the Jags have changed as much as we might have hoped. They played the Packers close in Jacksonville, but this is a franchise that’s won four road games since Gus Bradley took over in 2013. And three of those were in 2013! I think the Chargers are the smart pick here, and they should be plenty motivated after blowing what should have been an upset victory in Kansas City last week.

Green Bay (-2.5) at Minnesota

I wonder what the percentage of Packers fans will be in Minnesota’s sparkling new stadium for SUNDAY NIGHT IS FOOTBALL NIGHT. I know that the Vikings managed to beat Tennessee thanks in large part to their defense, but let’s be real: holding Marcus Mariota down & making the Titans turn the ball over is a little bit easier than holding Aaron Rodgers down and getting turnovers out of the Packers. Sam Bradford might be ready to go this week, but I don’t see it making too much of a difference in this one. The Packers should be able to get this win and get a game up on the Vikings in the NFC North. Could be important later on.

Monday, September 19

Philadelphia at Chicago (-3)

OK, Philadelphia vs. Chicago sounds ok on paper and it’ll draw a good rating because you got two big TV markets there. But when you realize it’s Carson Wentz vs. Jay Cutler, you kinda start wondering what’s going to be the main event on Raw, or if it’d be a good night to catch up on your Netflix binging.

Eagles fans got way too excited over beating the Browns in Week 1. I saw peeps on Twitter posting memes and laughing at other NFC East teams, acting like beating a team people are openly speculating will go 0-16 means a damn thing. The Bengals blew those scrubs out by over 20 points twice last season, and I didn’t get hyped either time because it was the Cleveland Browns and that’s what should happen. Eagle fans gotta check themselves.

Bears fans occasionally get a little over-excited. They haven’t had much reason to lately, and Week 1’s loss to the Texans didn’t inspire much optimism. Granted, most Bears fans are still watching baseball and haven’t noticed the NFL season has started yet.

There isn’t really a good way to bet this game. You’re either taking a rookie QB from North Dakota State on the road, or you’re trusting your money to Jay Cutler. My advice: STAY AWAY. DO NOT BET ON THIS GAME. CUT YOUR LOSSES AND MOVE ON.

But if you insist…take the Bears. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

bluto-chug-o

 

 

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